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AIWVIOS, in the times of the ages, but has now been made manifest, according to the commandment, T8 AlmVie Oce, of the everlasting God.” Tit. i. 2: “ In liope, Swns alwnie, of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised,” Togo xgovwy dlwvlw, before the times of the ages, or before the world began, or before the ancient dispensations.

These examples are abundantly sufficient to prove that the argument in support of the endless duration of punishment, founded upon this application of the term, is also fallacious.




The following passages have been deemed decisive proofs of the endless duration of the misery of the wicked.

Matt. xxv. 41: “Depart from me ye cursed, EIS TO TUO TO Qlwylov, into eternal or lasting fire.” Jude 7: “As Sodon and Gomorrha are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance, Tugos alwvis, of eternal fire.” This fire has been extinguished long ago. Matt, iii. 12: “ But he will burn the chaff, tugs ar 685W, with unquenchable fire.” Mark ix. 43—49: “And if thy hand cause thee to offend, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot cause thee to offend, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched. And if thine eye cause thee to offend, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched; for every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.”

It is argued that our Lord in this passage repeats five times that the fire into which the wicked are cast, shall never be quenched; that three times he speaks of hell as a place where the word dieth not, and that, still farther to shew the perpetuity of the sufferings of the wicked, he adds, “ for every one shall be salted with fire." As it is the property of salt to preserve, it is argued, that the inference justly deducible from this awful intimation is, that this fire, while it torments its unhappy victims, shall not put a period to their existence, but, contrary to its natural effect, continue them in being.

A careful examination of this passage will shew that this argument is founded upon a false interpretation of the metaphors which are here employed, and that it is altogether fallacious. Jesus speaks of the wicked as being cast into the valley of Hinnom, into the unquestionable fire, where the worm dieth not. Yet in the valley of Hinnom the worm died when its food failed, and the pile on which human sacrifices were burnt to Moloch was often extinguished.” Newcome.

“Thèse emblematical images, expressing hell, were in use among the Jews before our Saviour's time. The son of Sirach says, vii. 7, “The vengeance of the ungodly is fire and worms.' Judith xvi. 17: The Lord will take vengeance on the nations, &c., in the day of judgment, in putting fire and worms in their flesh.' Lowth's Note on Isaiah lxvi. 24.

When it is said that every one shall be salted with fire, or every sacrifice is salted with salt, this is to be understood, “not literally as the law requires, Levit. ii. 13, but figuratively, with the salt of divine assistance and instruction. Salt being a preservative of food from hasty corruption, was among the Jews an emblem of virtue and knowledge, by which the mind is purified. Coloss. iv. 6: · Let your speech

6 be always with grace, seasoned with salt.” Newcome.

That the phrase unquenchable fire, upon which so much stress is always laid in the argument for Endless Misery, does not denote a fire which shall never cease, is most certain. The following passages afford irresistible evidence, that it is constantly used in the Scriptures in a limited



Jer. xvii. 27: “But if ye will not hearken unto me, to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burthen, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then will I kindle fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, AND IT SHALL NOT BE

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QUENCHED." Yet the same prophet predicts that Jerusalem shall be rebuilt, ch. xxx. 18, &c. "

Ezek. xx. 45-48: “ Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me saying, Son of man, set thy face towards the south, and say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the Lord. Behold I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree, THE FLAMING FLAME SHALL NOT BE QUENCHED, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein, and all flesh shall see that I the Lord have kindled it; IT SHALL NOT BE QUENCHED.".

If it be supposed that these menaces were actually executed upon Jerusalem, and that when this devoted city was destroyed, the prophecy was literally accomplished, it must be admitted that the fire which consumed it is already extinguished, and that therefore the scriptural meaning of an'unquenchable fire is not one which has no termination. If these dreadful threatenings be more justly considered as figurative, it must be allowed that they 'express the Divine displeasure, and the severity of the punishment which is inflicted on the disobedient, but not that they determine any thing relative to its duration.

Isaiah xxxiv. 9–11:“And the streams thereof (of the land of Idumea) shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and

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